Interactive TV News Round-Up (V): Microsoft Xbox TV, MStar, Acetrax, NASCAR, ESPN

--Microsoft's Ballmer Demo's Xbox TV Platform
--MStar Incorporates Acetrax' VOD Service into its Connected-TV Software Platform
--NASCAR Expands Availability of its Interactive Video Product, Brings Content to WatchESPN

Due to the large volume of news generated by the IFA, IBC and CEDIA trade shows--and because the [itvt] editorial team has been working on TVOT NYC Intensive 2011--we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format. We anticipate that it will take us a few more days to catch up with all the recent news: so if your company has sent us a press release or briefed us on an announcement, and you don't yet see your news covered in this issue, please bear with us.

  • At the company's financial analyst meeting in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer provided a preview of a new Xbox TV platform that is scheduled to launch in time for the holiday season. Among other things, Ballmer revealed that the platform would offer VOD content, live TV programming (including "news, sports and your favorite channels"), Bing-powered search functionality, and a user interface based on the Microsoft Kinect platform that will allow viewers to control their Xbox TV service via gestures and voice commands. CNN's David Goldman has more.
  • MStar Semiconductor contacted [itvt] earlier this week to let us know that it is offering digital movie retailer Acetrax' Acetrax Premium Service as part of its "MStar Connected" software platform for connected TV's and set-top boxes. "MStar created the 'MStar Connected' package by developing a complete turnkey software stack and engaged with content providers to provide a wide portfolio of services on the platform," the company states in its press materials. "The platform is available to manufacturers, product developers, operators and retailers. Acetrax Premium Service is now pre-integrated and available on the MStar connected-TV platform. MStar is already massively deployed in the digital TV market. MStar's experience, gained through market deployment and the acquisition of engineering assets, provides customers with cost-effective hardware, tightly coupled to one of the most comprehensive turnkey software stacks in the industry. Acetrax is the first movie retailer in Europe to offer blockbuster movies to rent or permanently buy movies directly through their TV's without having a monthly subscription. The movies are stored in a digital online library and played back on up to four devices including laptops (PC or Mac). This makes the need for DVD's or downloading, storing and copying large movie files across devices redundant and a thing of the past. A simple license agreement with Acetrax would enable a CE brand to bring to life its video-enabled product." Said Acetrax chief marketing officer, Leslie Golding: "MStar is the largest chipset vendor for connected TV's and STB's. We are delighted to partner with MStar and work with their CE manufacturer partners to bring Acetrax, the No.1 premium VOD TV platform, to market on a Pan-European scale."
  • NASCAR, ESPN and Turner Sports (manages NASCAR's Web site) have announced that's interactive video product, RaceBuddy, will be available for the first time ever during the "Chase" (i.e. NASCAR's post-season run), and that NASCAR content will appear for the first time ever on ESPN's platform and WatchESPN app. "RaceBuddy,'s popular, interactive live video product, will feature two mosaics with a mix of eight in-car and stationary cameras positioned around the track for the nine Chase races airing on ESPN," the partners state in their press materials. "Fans wanting to watch ESPN's live telecast on their computer, smartphone or tablet will now be able to do so through ESPN's groundbreaking application, WatchESPN and on, which debuted in 2008 and has predominately served as an enhancement to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races on TNT, will return on September 18 for the Geico 400 from Chicagoland Speedway (ESPN, 2:00PM ET). In addition to the two mosaics with a total of eight camera angles, RaceBuddy on will continue to offer DVR functionality, the Enhanced Live Leaderboard and RaceView's position tracker...WatchESPN and, which give sports fans access to 24/7 live programming from ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPNU, will, for the first time ever, exclusively feature the live ESPN telecasts of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. WatchESPN is available on computers, smartphones and tablets through and the free WatchESPN app, which are accessible to fans who receive their video service from an affiliated provider. Also, ESPN2's daily NASCAR news and information program, 'NASCAR Now,' will be available on multiple devices to NASCAR fans for the first time ever through WatchESPN and Telecasts of NASCAR Nationwide Series races on ESPN and ESPN2 will also be available. ESPN first launched an online-accessible authenticated version of ESPN in October, 2010." Said Marc Jenkins, NASCAR's VP of digital media: "Enhancing the viewing experience and improving the sport's digital and social presence for our millions of fans, at the track, at home and everywhere in between, is a goal we never lose sight of. Being able to offer this series of interactive products during the Chase will further engage our fans with a robust digital presence that will forever change how the championship points battle is consumed."
North America